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Friday, February 1, 2019

The Tutko Family Child Abuse-Murder Case

     Jarrod and Kimberly Tutko and their six children, ages 3 to 13, resided in a three-story house in Harrisburg, the state capital of Pennsylvania. All of the Tutko children had medical problems and disabilities. One of the siblings was deaf and at least two others were autistic. One of the girls was in a vegetative state and confined to a hospital bed on the second-floor. She had to be fed through a feeding tube. Kimberly Tutko devoted much of her time caring for this severely autistic child.

     Mr. Tutko took care of this girl's 8-year-old brother, Jarrod Jr. Besides severe autism, young Jarrod had a genetic defect called Fragile X Syndrome that rendered him unable to communicate, eat solid food, or use the toilet. Confined to his bedroom on the third-floor of the house, the boy had ripped up the room's floor and carpet. He refused to wear a diaper and regularly smeared his feces on windows and walls. He was so disabled he was unable to attend school.

     On Saturday morning, August 2, 2014, Kimberly Tutko noticed an unusually four odor coming from the third floor. She asked her husband to investigate. A short time later Mr. Tutko came down the stairs carrying young Jarrod. He laid the corpse, wrapped in a sheet, on the bathroom floor.

     Kimberly pulled back the sheet and recoiled in horror at the sight of her son's decomposing remains. She asked her husband how long the boy had been dead. Four days, he replied. Why didn't he immediately report Jarrod's death? The father said he was afraid of how the other children would react to the death of their sibling. Kimberly Tutko called 911.

     Later that day a Dauphin County prosecutor charged Jarrod Tutko with endangering the welfare of children, concealing the death of a child, and abuse of corpse. Social workers with the Dauphin County Children and Youth Services removed the other five children from the Tutko house.

     The judge set the 38-year-old's bail at $500,000 pending further investigation and the results of the boy's autopsy. (I imagine physicians have looked closely at the boy's medical history for indications of past abuse.)

     On August 5, 2014, the Dauphin County coroner announced that the forensic pathologist who performed the autopsy had been unable to determine the child's cause of death. The coroner said he had ordered further tests that he hoped would shed some light on the case. A few months later, after the coroner ruled that the disabled boy had been starved to death, the Tutkos were charged with murder.

     In October 2015, the Tutkos pleaded guilty to child abuse and third-degree murder. The judge sentenced Jarrod Tutko to 21 to 44 years in prison. Kimberly Tutko received a sentence of 20 to 40 years behind bars.

1 comment:

  1. Two weeks, eh? Perhaps we should wait for the book.....?